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another fine night at The Italian

another fine night at The Italian

Looking back over the years I suppose our default place to get together to celebrate family events – birthdays, anniversary’s, christenings etc is The Italian in Romiley.

Last night was another of those occasions – Richards 30th birthday and so once again we found ourselves at The Italian – and as ever Alex and the team were brilliant.

Taking account of Daniel, Emma and Harry meant Richard had booked us in fairly early on Wednesday evening, the children were excited to see Richard and brought him cards they had made and gifts they had bought.

Pat and I had made sure we were there a little early so as to hand over Ricard’s birthday cake to be presented to hm later on.

It was no surprise at all that the service was good, the food was great and all within a pleasant environment – which added up to another decent evening and yet another family occasion shared at The Italian.

Anyone that knows Richard will know that he can always find a minute (or two) to talk about football – and I’m guessing Alex has been waylaid on more that one occasion to talk football with Richard … after the lights had been dimmed, Happy Birthday sung and the cake cut – Alex presented Richard with a Napoli away shirt – a perfect end to another nice evening.

No doubt we will be back there again to celebrate the next family event and in between times I’m pretty certain that we will be there (perhaps not all together) just to enjoy a really decent bite to eat. Well done and thanks to Alex and the team.

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great trip to lincoln … part 1

great trip to lincoln … part 1

We were away for a few days last week with my parents in Lincoln.  We stayed in Newport on the Sunday evening so as to make for a short journey to Cardiff first thing Monday morning, and decided to book into the Hampton by Hilton hotel just a few miles off the M4 motorway.

It’s not a chain that we had used before but based on our first experience there we will certainly use them again for this type of stop. Decent accommodation, decent breakfast, good parking and extremely good value – and in our opinion compared more than favorably with Premier Inns and Travel Lodge accommodation.

After picking up my parents – Monday saw us drive around 200 miles to Lincoln, broken only by a decent stop at Butlers Coffee House located in a Grade II-listed former butcher’s shop in Bingham (Nottinghamshire) and about 30 miles of so from the accommodation we had rented at No 24 Church Lane,

Our accommodation was perfectly located very – close to the Cathedral Quarter and really is the proverbial stones throw from the cathedral and castle.  The hosts Dan and Rosie just couldn’t have been more helpful from booking through to arrival. The accommodation is ideal for four people, superbly fitted out and full of lovely touches – the sort that make all the difference and make for a very pleasant and comfortable stay.

In fact I would go so far as to say that if you’re planing on visiting and staying over in Lincoln this place should be high on your list when checking availability – I’d be surprised if my wife and I don’t stay there again at some point in the future.

Monday afternoon saw us head off for a walk towards the very pretty Bailgate and Steep Hill area for a wander and browse around the place before we took refreshments in the Magna Carta public house.

Once suitably refreshed we continued to wander and headed into the simply magnificent cathedral – which by any measure is a must see place if visiting Lincoln.

Building work on the cathedral started in 1088 and for a period of 238 years (between 1311 and 1549) it was actually the tallest building in the world. It’s an impressive and inspiring place and we really enjoyed our visit there, in fact the Victorian writer John Ruskin once said of it:  “I have always held… that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have.”

After that it was a bite to eat in a local pub before heading back to our accommodation where my Mum and Dad cut the anniversary cake that my wife had made and we shared a bottle of Prosseco.

You can read more in Part Two by clicking here

You can read more in Part Three by clicking here

refresh the bench …

refresh the bench …

Almost three years ago my daughters neighbours gave her an old garden bench for the children. The bench was passed onto me for a bit of restoration work and you can read about that here.

The passage of time meant that almost three years on it was time for a refresh and a couple of months back the bench ended up in my garden shed waiting to be done.

With Spring around the corner I set to it the other week and yesterday the bench was returned, good to go for anther couple of years … although the pig is a little more pink than last time round!

another capital day out …

another capital day out …

Pat and I were in London again a few days ago and I think it was the third time we have taken advantage of the cheap travel from Virgin Rail. Last time we were there was back in October so it seemed that a reasonable amount of time had passed since we were last there .

We had no specific plan for our day but set off first for Carnaby Street, then towards Piccadilly Circus, down the Mall and onto Trafalgar Square (mainly to see the new item on the Fourth Plinth).

We were blessed with fine weather and a real feel of an early Spring day, which was an added bonus for the numerous street artists and entertainers.

Later we headed to the Covent Garden area for a drink and once refreshed we headed out to Greenwich – the 02 Arena and the Emirates Cable Car. Before heading back on the Docklands Light Railway.

Next up was a visit to The Barbican and The British Library before rounding our day off with a bite to eat in O’Neills down between Euston and St Pancrass – then a late train home and in bed by midnight.

All in all another decent day out.

 

 

down to the woods …

down to the woods …

Daniel, Emma and I made an early start yesterday morning to wander down to the woods, we ended up walking the best part of three and a half miles which was more than enough for the pair of them.

Whilst we off doing that Pat took Harry for a wander as well and then later and after lunch we ‘painted’ a few hard boiled eggs, which stretched my creativity to breaking point.

Daniel insisted on bringing along a whistle … to warn us when we were being chased by wolves … which seemed to be most of the time.

In addition to escaping from wolves we checked under the small bridges for Trolls, ran from Crocodiles (who swim in the River Tame of all places) and generally were on our guard for all sorts of threats from the wildlife. When I decided to up the game and suggested we might have to watch out for Lions, Daniel put in me in my place by telling me they were only in the grasslands and not here!

Only one of us slipped, cut their hand, and bruised their knee and went tumbling back down the muddy hill (mountain) that we had clambered up and it wasn’t Daniel or Emma!

All in all we had a fine walk

The egg painting was basic but fun …

local museum visit …

local museum visit …

Yesterday we nipped down to the Museum of Science & Industry (MoSI) in central Manchester.

Although we have been to the museum a few times before, it’s always worth a visit, the prompt for yesterdays trip was the temporary display of the Soyuz capsule that Major Tim Peake returned to earth in, on the 18 June 2016 following his six months in the International Space Station.

In addition to the capsule the emergency space suit that he wore was also on display.

Although there isn’t a great deal to the actual Soysuz capsule display and related bits and pieces, it is worth seeing in my opinion. I was struck by just how small it was – and even though the whole event was well documented on television and there are hours of footage available on the web, there’s nothing quite like seeing something for real to get an appreciation of it.  There’s a video guide to the capsule at this link

After seeing the capsule we made our way across to the permanent displays in the  Power Hall and wandered around looking at the various engines,  ranging from those that were powered by water and steam to some of the huge railway locomotives on display that were made in Manchester and that were used in Pakistan and South Africa.

Of course with the age of the children then the time we spent and the level at which we looked at things was appropriate to them, but if you’re there as an adult it would be easy to while away a good half day.

After the Power Hall we wandered across the road to the Air & Space Hall, stopped for a bite to eat, before visiting the hands on Experiment section and then finally finsihing off with a drink in the cafe/bistro.

All in all another decent visit – although there was plenty more to see that we didn’t get round to and that will wait for another time.

 

 

 

 

 

if you go down to the woods …

if you go down to the woods …

I had a fine time yesterday when I set off with two of my grandchildren for an amble down the woods – grandchild number three remained at home with my wife, he’s just a little young too join in the sort of walk we had.

There’s seldom a time when we see them that they don’t surprise us and yesterday was no exception – before we had even set off both Daniel and Emma were chanting their 2 and 3 Times Tables to me – I’ve long since forgotten at about what age children learn these things but I hadn’t expected it from a five and three year old. To be fair they topped that whilst we were out walking when they started singing some song about the Romans with mention of Carthage – after they had finished and I had complimented them, Daniel told me in a quite matter of fact sort of way “It’s Geography Grandad”

081117 Woods (3)I had a single £1 coin in my pocket and when we stopped off at a local newsagents I had optimistically thought that we might get three chocolate Freddo’s – alas they had decided that it would be a good idea to get one Milky Bar and one Freddo which they could then both share. The two bars accounted for £0.95p of my single £1 … I was grateful for them both allowing me a small bite of their chocolate bars.

After that it was a pretty much routine walk through the woods down near the River Tame with imaginary worlds to explore and ‘mountains’ to scramble up – and on one occasion, for the three of us to tumble down, it could have been worse and we really shouldn’t have gone up it, thankfully we hadn’t been seen by anyone or I’m sure I would have been branded irresponsible.

We found names for almost everything we came across: slippy bridge, Roman Ruins, white water corner, big mountain, red rock mountain etc … and to be honest I’m not sure who enjoyed it the most!

Lunch was a simple affair – a jam sandwich for Daniel and a cheese sandwich for Emma, I got some of the crusts from Emma’s bread (or bones as we call them).

All in all we walked 3.5 miles, had a good time, got dirty and didn’t go near a television, DVD or Ipad – sometimes the best things really are free.

Although Harry had been left at home – he didn’t look as though he had missed out – and as well as nipping to the shops with my wife, he had generally had the run of the house as well as the endless fascination that a small boy gets from a washing machine.

One last thing – as we walked home we passed the primary school where my children used to go many years ago, I pointed it out to the children and explained that was where their Mummy used to go – they were genuinely surprised and asked me why did she go to school, as children who are being Home Educated I suppose I should have anticipated the next question – “did you teach her Grandad?” … er no, “why not Grandad”, er I don’t think I would really have been good enough to do that,  a look at her Blog will amply illustrate that she really does excel in ways that I never could